Category Archives: Indigo Dreams

indigo frustrations

Now WHY would the henna (123 vat) solution work as a solution, but not as a vat when added to more water??????????? Maybe the henna IS too old after all to keep working in the increased volume? Whatever! I’m completely frustrated by this, and to boot, the chemical vat is not working either. WTF? I did recommended “top-ups”, still Nada.

(Proceed to step two of frustration: slam doors, stomp around, curse, yell at the vats.)

SO, if a 123 is considered a fructose vat, i had to cast around for some info on what i could use for the fructose. Yeah right, the one week we have only apples and oranges in the fruit bowl…..oranges are too acidic and apparently apples do not work. BUGGER. Taking a trip up to the Co-op would necessitate getting dressed, catching a bus, doing the shopping, getting back on a bus, getting home, and undressing (errr, changing back into to the HouseClothes.) RAISINS!! Oh joy, usually we have two huge jars crammed with them. What do i find? One scant 3/4 cup.

Step three: weep.

Step four, just huck the damn things in a pot with 3 cups of water and boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Decant the syrupy sweet smelling liquid. (Henna smells like pudding made with mud.) Cool somewhat and gently introduce to the 123 vat. “Hello Stoopid, meet Fructose. Fructose, meet Stoopid. Get jiggy with each other please, i promise not to peek.”

Step five; keep hoofies crossed. Go do something else.

As to the “chemical” vat, i am going back to the original MAIWA instructions. Nobody else’s method seems to work, though you’d think it would all be the same. Something is missing there, but not sure what. I compared all the measurements, the instructions, the temps, and i’ll be bamfoozled if i can see any discernible difference……….  MAIWA’s method helped me revive a  frozen-through-three-harsh-Calgary-winters vat (NOT the true definition of a 123 vat), so i’m sticking to them!

FINE> I’ll have go back to embrilting in the meantime to wile the waiting away……………………



nothin’ like the smell of senescent soymilk in the morning

GAG. You know that garbagey, something’s-dead-and-liquescing smell that tells you there is something rotten in the State of Denmark?  I searched the entire house yesterday, thinking i’d find a decaying apple, a bag of decomposing rose leaves or an ancient pizza crust maybe that the DogFaced Girl had stashed. Turns out it was the soymilk i had made up for mordanting fabrics. GAG. Into the basement with that! I have one more dip to do tonight and then that crud is getting flushed!!!!!! GAG. Fortunately too, the Dye Dungeon is quite cool, the basement of a 107 year old house after all, and nothing is wafting up through the air vents!

While i was down there, i also poked the old indigo vat. I started it in the summer of 2011, managed to revive it even after it being outside and FREEZING through 3 Calgary winters, but Long Live the Indigo Vat, the Indigo Vat is dead………….

BUT Great Excitement abounds also! While the henna experiments failed as a dye, it’s working in a 123 indigo vat!!!!!! This is the stock solution below, and i’m hoping to get some indigo dyeing/shibori in this coming weekend.

Also started a conventional “chemical” vat, because i wasn’t going to hedge my bets that the 123 would work. That being said, i can now compare the two to see if i get the greener turquoisey results from the 123 i noticed while in a Yoshiko Wada workshop a couple of years ago.

And my threads arrived yesterday from my favourite supplier 123Stitch:

AND this weekend i am going with Susan to the UjaamaGramma’s sale, which means no doubt that some sad eyed puppy of a bag of thread or two, and sundry other heart-wrenchingly abandoned bits will follow me home. Good thing i donated too, so there’s room 😉



lightfastness, and other current pursuits

Annatto, while initially strong, does fade substantially. I wrote about the marvellous depth of colour here, but after 5 weeks in the sunny Stoodio window, there is quite a difference in shade. Considering too that spring in Calgary does not have the longest amount of daylight or the strongest UV rating, this does not bode well for future use.

Left silk, right cotton, both with the folded over section on the left in sun, while the behind section was covered.

I’ll be overdyeing these, using them as a base colour, but will do more lightfastness tests, because it may still affect the final outcome. I do wonder though how substantive dyes allow other dyes over top—-indigo works, so will the annatto???


I also started two indigo vats today, one a conventional indigo/soda ash/thio and the other a 123 with indigo, calx and henna. Since the henna did not dye fabrics for me in a straight dye bath, i’m hoping it still has enough “chemistry” in it to work for the vat!

My friend Susan (also in Calgary, so we have location in common, but our water as well 😉 ) has started a separate blog too, for her natural dye processes. We’ve been trading notes and she generously shares much info on dye subjects i have little knowledge of.



1 Comment

Posted by on April 18, 2017 in annato, Dyeing, Indigo Dreams


indigo plans

I didn’t realize how much indigo i have until i was totting up what i need in the way of dyestuffs for residency this summer. Almost 3 pounds, and all the adjuncts too, for chemical, henna and natural vats! So, if we’re going to be serious about this (though i do not label myself an expert, or a Master, like some truly are), i figured some fabric twangling might be in order as well. Not just dipping and clamping this year, i really want to get into some interesting patterning for use in my own work. And yes, there will no doubt be some ending up in the shop 🙂


And wonder of wonders: i ordered this on the 28th of this month, and arrived home from the fffFlower Mines just 10 minutes ago, and it was on my doorstep! Canada Post must have slipped up, because i have never received *anything* EVER in 3 days, no matter how near or far!


hexes rising

indigo-hexes-jan-24A few years ago in a Yoshiko Wada workshop, i fortuitously dipped two previously ecoprinted hunks of silk in a henna based indigo pot. In the ensuing years i’ve often dug them out and admired the greeny blue that resulted, though often thought the mud colour induced by chemical reaction over the ecoprints was well, too muddy. Sometimes i’ve wondered about just tossing them or giving them away.

Whew, i didn’t. You never know what will be Useful and Beautiful and Perfect, if you throw it out. The earthiness now of those colours are what was called for in secret by this piece. I listened.

My biggest challenge with this though, is finding a UBP slab of true madder.


I’ve been tuning into certain words and phrases now as i stitch in the evenings, hearing from the strangest sources quotes about memory. A cheesy B movie yielded up “We survive by remembering, but sometimes we survive by forgetting,” and a Cicero quote from an episode of Criminal Minds ““The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” Proves one never knows what might be relevant or inspiring, and from the oddest “sources”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




I have this and 5 more to “put together”, meaning this major part of the embroidery is done and they need to go on their backgrounds and mounted.

8-moon-ready“Pollen Moon”

And that means my “Phases of the Moon” phase will be done for awhile, and i can get cracking on my other ideas!


“torn between two lovers”

8-moonI continue. And continue. And continue.

I’m reminding myself that the intended audience cares nothing for or about my “serious” work, that they want “pretty” or “interesting” for a reasonable price, and no one can blame them for that. The aim after all, of a Christmas Market is to get something into someone else’s hands for gift giving, and to get a few dollars in your own pocket. How can i complain about that? When i made “wearable art” in the 90’s that was my ONLY concern: i *didn’t* want things hanging about the Stoodio, or it was wasted materials, time and effort. The big problem really is that i committed late to the endeavour, giving myself only 37 days to get enough work together………..I blame ME for all of this then……The Financial Me says GO GO GO, and the Artist Me is dragging her heels and whining.

“Next year, i’ll start earlier for Christmas.” I *do* have an 11tybajillion ideas for that, so we’ll see what percolates up from the wells then. And all complaining aside, i like these efforts, BUT..


I keep staring at this, currently pinned to a design wall, trying out things in my mind, jotting notes, holding my breath.

autumn-languishingI’m reminding myself it will all be “over” at the end of Nov 19, and i can return to this and other new work, with copious ideas, plans and colourways, motifs and techniques.

Snivel snivel snivel.


PS Fabrics are on sale in the shop–winter clear out time!   <——That’s a link 🙂